School of Motion

How to Export with a Transparent Background in After Effects

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Quick Tip Tutorial: Rendering Transparency - Exporting Video Footage with a Transparent Background in After Effects

Whether you're working with a still or moving file, the reason for a transparent background is simple: flexibility.
In After Effects, specifically, exporting your footage with a transparent background allows you to place it above or below other footage, text or images in your video editing timeline.
som_after-effects_transparent-background.jpeg
In our latest Quick Tip Tutorial from Birmingham-based motion designer, director and SOM alum Jacob Richardson, we show you how to render and export your Adobe After Effects file with variable alpha layers, providing variability in opacity so you can adjust the layering effects in your project to achieve your desired result.

How to Export with a Transparent Background in After Effects: Quick Tip Tutorial Video

How to Export with a Transparent Background in After Effects: Quick Tip Tutorial Project Files

To follow along, download the project files used in Jacob's tutorial video.
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Project Files: Rendering Transparency in After Effects

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How to Export with a Transparent Background in After Effects: Explained

Before beginning the process of rendering and exporting your footage with transparency in After Effects, you need to select your composition, either in the timeline or project panel.
Once you've selected the right composition, click the Composition menu at the top of the application window and select Add to Render Queue.
Your Render Queue window should open, with your composition in the queue.
How to Add a composition to the render queue in After Effects-optimized.gif
Next, select your settings.
Move your cursor to the left side of your window, and click the dropdown menu next to Output Module. The Output Module settings window will pop up.
Click Format, and then select Quicktime, the industry standard.
How to export quicktime alpha in after effects-optimized.gif
Finally, still in the Output Module settings window, under Video Output, click Channels, select RGB + Alpha, and then click OK at the bottom of the window.
Selecting RGB Alpha in after effects render settings.gif
You're now ready to export with variable alpha channels!

How to Work Professionally in After Effects

Looking to get your foot in the door as a motion designer? Our mission is to break the down barriers standing in your way, and equip you for the work ahead.
We reached out to the top motion design studios across the country and asked their leaders what it takes to get hired. Then we compiled the answers into a free ebook.
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How to Get Hired: Insights from 15 World-Class Studios

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How to Stand Out Among Your Peers

No matter what role you're hoping to fill, you can enhance your value as a candidate by investing in yourself through continuing education.
While we (and others) do offer a ton of free content (e.g., tutorials like this), to truly take advantage of everything SOM has to offer, you'll want to enroll in one of our courses, taught by the top motion designers in the world. 
We know this isn't a decision to be made lightly. Our classes aren't easy, and they're not free. They're interactive and intensive, and that's why they're effective. 
In fact, 99% of our alumni recommend School of Motion as a great way to learn motion design. (Makes sense: many of them go on to work for the biggest brands and best studios on earth!)
Want to make moves in the motion design industry? Pick the course that's right for you — and you'll gain access to our private student groups; receive personalized, comprehensive critiques from professional artists; and grow faster than you ever thought possible.